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Before Green Day or Even Lookout Records, There Were The Lookouts and "Living Behind Bars"

From Don Giovanni's forthcoming LP compiling the band's tracks, due on March 10!
March 2, 2015, 4:28pm

Way before Operation Ivy or Neurosis or Born Against or Pretty Girls Make Graves, Lookout Records was a vehicle for The Lookouts, a band consisting of honcho Larry Livermore along with Kain Hanschke and a pre-pubescent Tre Cool (later of Green Day). Existing from 1985-1990, The Lookouts have compiled and remastered their output with Spy Rock Road (And Other Stories) a 23 song effort due on Don Giovanni on March 10. Stream the freshly remastered "Living Behind Bars" here for the first time and order yours the label.

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Larry Livermore of the band commented on the track thusly:

In 1988, Jesse from Operation Ivy, Lenny from Isocracy, and Jake from Filth moved into a truly squalid place in Oakland that became known as the Ashtray, I guess because everyone would sit around chain smoking and dropping their butts pretty much anywhere they felt like. People also started calling it “the punk house,” the first time I’d ever heard that term. I took Ben Weasel there for a visit and he wrote a song about it, though he’ll probably deny it.

It was in a terrible neighborhood, or at least one that seemed quite frightening compared to where most of us lived. Pretty much every house – except the Ashtray itself - had bars on the windows and doors, and when we went to visit, we’d always drive with the car doors locked and the windows rolled up for the last few blocks. “Living Behind Bars” was inspired by that experience, the idea that society had turned people into prisoners in their own homes.

It was also my attempt to write in the style of Operation Ivy, who were far and away the East Bay’s biggest band at the time. I couldn’t play a ska beat (Lint had tried – unsuccessfully - to teach me), but I could borrow one of their chord progressions and Jesse’s penchant for cramming as many words as possible into a line. To complete the picture, I asked Lint (now better known as Tim Armstrong) to come into the studio with me and record some lead guitar, which in my opinion really made that song.

We finished recording and mixing in the middle of the night, and we took a cassette of it to the all-night 7-11 in Albany (just north of Berkeley), where Lint’s brother worked the graveyard shift. Lint was all like, “Yo, listen to this, I’m going to be on a record” (this was before the Operation Ivy LP had been recorded, so I guess it seemed like a bigger deal to him at the time). His brother put the tape on really loud and we danced around the aisles of 7-11 at two o’clock in the morning feeling really awesome about it.

Check out "Living Behind Bars" below.